Questions You Should Always Ask Your Kitchen Hires

Back of the house hiring can be an exhausting process that doesn’t always yield the results you were hoping for. As a restaurant manager, you might often find yourself interviewing people on the spot with little to no preparation or research done on the candidate. You are looking for a body to fill a position and may figure that you will work out the details later.

Sometimes those hires work out and sometimes they don’t. Usually when they don’t, you are knee deep in Friday night tickets and the station that your latest hire was manning is no longer in the weeds, but has entered the jungle. Just like that, the person you thought was “golden” is gone and you will start your Saturday morning with eyes and ears open for someone to take that position.

Is there something you could have done during these quick interviews to give a glimpse into the future as to how this panned out?

Maybe, maybe not…but here are some questions that might help you screen your hires a bit differently during these quick interviews.

Instead of asking “Do you have any manager experience?” ask “Are you looking for a management position?” Let’s be real, resumes can get a little fluffy. While working at your aunt’s deli every weekend during high school allows you to say you were the night manager for locking the doors, that doesn’t mean this person has any tangible managing skills. Instead, now you are seeking to see if this person has growth potential. Any answer could work in your favor. If they say “yes” – great, there is something there that you can work with. If they say “no” and still want the job, you’ve found someone who is there to work, and hopefully work hard.

Instead of asking “How many ounces are in a cup” ask them to pour out some measurements right there in front of you. You might be surprised how many kitchen hires don’t know the difference between a weight ounce or a fluid ounce or even how many ounces make up a pound. While it’s not a make-or-break quality, it certainly is helpful for a cook to be able to move quickly and accurately through measurements and more importantly, reading and understanding recipes. Have a bag of rice handy, a few measuring cups, and a scale. Bring this out during your interviews and spit out various measurements to have the person measure them out right in front of you under a bit of pressure.

Instead of asking ”Have you ever been fired from a job?” ask ”What do you think are grounds for termination at this restaurant?” Of course you want to know if this person has ever been fired from a job before, but the chances of them telling you and putting it on their resume are slim to none. Instead, let them get into your mind a little bit. See what kind of pressure they put on themselves. You might look for an answer like “showing up late once” or something along the lines of a three strike policy. This will help you get on the same page and you can respond back with what your terms actually are.

Being able to maximize your time during these interviews and gain quality information is crucial. Hopefully the answers to these questions will get you a few steps further than before. The interviewing process is incredibly tricky at any level… It has taken me years to solidify a really great one, and it is still always evolving. I’m happy to share for those of you who would like to up your hiring skills across the board!

Ray Camillo – Founder & CEO, Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting

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